Churchill magazine

Tips for driving in rush hour

Updated on: 24 September 2020

rush hour driving

Rush-hour traffic is often tackled first thing in the morning or straight after a full day’s work... just when everyone using the road is likely to be tired.  

With eyes beginning to glaze and concentration levels waning, it’s important to keep driving in a measured way during stop-start traffic. These tips should not only help reduce your risk of having an accident during busy times, but lower the wear and tear on your vehicle.

Look beyond what’s in front of you

The car in front might only be a few meters ahead, but try to keep an eye on what’s going on further up the road too. This will help you work out the trend of the traffic and anticipate any changes in speed before they happen.

Foreseeing when you’ll need to slow down will give you the edge in rush-hour traffic, while gradual braking and minimal use of gears should help save fuel. Keep looking ahead to see when you’ll need to come to a stop, then aim to take your foot off the accelerator, rather than having to jam it on the brakes.

Maintain a steady speed

This simply means accelerating slowly in stop-start traffic, rather than nipping forward to quickly fill the gap in front, then having to brake harshly once the car in front slows again.

By using your speed in an efficient way, you can help maintain a smooth flow of traffic, staying out of any trouble caused by a string of cars rushing and halting. It’s also more economical to increase your speed gradually, saving fuel.

Stay in the correct gear

This is another good money saving tip when driving a manual car in rush hour, as it helps reduce your fuel consumption.

Generally, the best moment to change up a gear is when you can maintain your speed in the next gear without pressing down on the accelerator. When it comes to changing down, you want to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your engine. You’ll know you’re in the wrong gear when you hear a noisy, racing surge in the engine speed. 

Remember that timing is everything

If possible, travel earlier or later to avoid those peak congestion times. Even five or ten minutes can sometimes make all the difference.

Or perhaps plan a different route altogether. It might cover more miles, but roads with free-flowing traffic could save you time in the long run.

Stop stressing

Tense drivers don’t tend to make good drivers. If you find yourself up against the clock in rush-hour traffic, here are five relaxation techniques to help you keep calm: 

  • Concentrate on keeping your shoulders and arms relaxed as you drive.

  • When traffic is static, use the opportunity to roll your head and stretch.

  • Repeat breathing deeply into the bottom of your stomach, then out again.

  • Try listening to soft classical music to help relax your mood.

  • You could also try listening to podcasts or audio books that make you laugh.

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